Harvard vs. UConn: Ranked Opponents Set to Battle inside Gampel Pavilion

No. 24 Harvard Crimson at No. 9 Connecticut Huskies
Thursday, 12/8/11, 7:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Connecticut -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Connecticut -6
Opening Total:  129.5
Current Total:  130.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Connecticut Huskies are led offensively by Jeremy Lamb

Harvard is off to its best start since the 1984-85 season and heads back out on the road after coming off an 80-70 win over Seattle.  The Crimson are currently No. 24 in this week’s ESPN/USA Today poll, marking the first time in program history the school being ranked in a major poll.  “I think it’s a significant achievement to have that happen,” commented Crimson head coach Tommy Amaker.  The program has met Connecticut 16 times on the hardwood, posting a 2-14 mark, which includes an 81-52 defeat last year as 12.5-point underdogs.  Harvard is 4-0 ATS on the year and 15-5 ATS in non-conference action over the last two-plus campaigns.

The Crimson enter the week 10th in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 54.4 points per game.  Harvard picking up a win Thursday night would certainly be an upset, heading into Stoors, CT, with a 6-38 all-time record against current members of the Big East Conference.  Known for its free-throw shooting, the team has dropped off a bit this year, hitting 72.2 percent from the charity stripe.  During the 2010-11 campaign, Harvard ranked second nationally with an 80.8 percent success rate.

Connecticut has won two games in a row since dropping its only game against Central Florida, coming in off an impressive 75-62 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks as 12.5-point home favorites.  The Huskies have won 38 straight non-conference home games and has not lost in a regular season in November or December in Storrs since Dec. 5, 1973, a span of 101 games.  Connecticut is 12-18 ATS at home the past two-plus seasons.

The Huskies are led offensively by Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier, but Ryan Boatright is also a threat off the bench in scoring 23 points against the Razorbacks.  Lamb has tallied 20 or more points in four games this season, while Napier has gone above that number five times.  Connecticut is 21-6 all-time against ranked opponents in Gampel Pavilion, including a perfect 6-0 mark versus non-conference foes.  Head coach Jim Calhoun has a trio of offensive scorers to take the place of Kemba Walker after winning the national title a year ago.

Bettors will likely back the Huskies due to their 11-2 ATS mark versus winning teams, while the Crimson are 1-4 ATS as a road underdog of 6.5 points or less.

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